Dan Feldman

NBA: Two officiating errors late in fourth quarter favored Hawks over Cavaliers

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LeBron James complained about three calls in the Cavaliers’ 126-125 overtime loss to the Hawks on Sunday: a five-second violation, failure to get a timeout and his sixth foul.

The NBA didn’t rule on his timeout request, but the Last Two Minute Report said the referees correctly ruled on the five-second violation and LeBron’s sixth foul.

However, the two-minute report also noted two officiating errors late in the fourth quarter – both favoring Atlanta.

Kent Bazemore got away with committing a shooting foul on Kyrie Irving with 31.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter:

Bazemore (ATL) makes contact with Irving’s (CLE) arm that affects his jump shot attempt:

A correct call would’ve given Irving, who’s making 91% of his free throws this season and 87% for his career, two attempts from the line.

Instead, Irving missed and the Hawks secured the defensive rebound.

The Hawks forced a held ball with 4.9 seconds left in overtime, but a second earlier, Bazemore and Paul Millsap should have been whistled for touching the ball while out of bounds:

Bazemore (ATL) and Millsap (ATL) make contact with the ball while standing OOB.

A correct call would’ve given the Cavs the ball on a throw-in – exactly what LeBron wanted when he tried to call timeout.

Instead, the Hawks won the ensuing jump ball and scored off it to force overtime.

Fix either call, and Cleveland probably wins in regulation.

And if the Cavs win in regulation, they probably play LeBron and Irving last night. If they play LeBron and Irving last night, they probably beat the Heat. If they  beat the Heat, they’d probably play their top players tomorrow. If they play their top players tomorrow, they probably beat the Raptors.

There are a lot of variables the further removed we get from these two missed calls, but it’s not a major leap to say these officiating errors cost the Cavaliers the No. 1 seed.

2017 PBT Awards: Sixth Man of the Year

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Kurt Helin

1. Andre Iguodala, Warriors

2. Lou Williams, Rockets

3. Eric Gordon, Rockets

This was a tough one. Iguodala is only scoring 7.6 points per game this season, with 4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per night, numbers traditionally too low for this award, but his defense and secondary playmaking are key to Golden State’s success with their second unit (and he plays with the first unit a lot). Lou Williams is putting up much better numbers, 17.7 points per game, but he racked up a lot of those scoring buckets for a Lakers team that had nobody else. In the end, the contributions to winning mattered more to me.

Note: Helin has an official ballot this year.

Dan Feldman

1. Andre Iguodala, Warriors

2. Lou Williams, Rockets

3. Eric Gordon, Rockets

Andre Iguodala has been the NBA’s best reserve for the last three years, but he hasn’t contributed the most to his team the previous two regular seasons due to injury and holding back for the playoffs. This year, he deserves this award. Iguodala was solid most of the year and then really stepped up when Kevin Durant got hurt. Iguodala protects the ball incredibly for someone who generates so many efficient shots for teammates and himself, and he’s an excellent defender.

Lou Williams barely edged his Rockets teammate, Eric Gordon, due mostly to his stellar play with the Lakers. Honorable mention: Greg Monroe, James Johnson and Joe Ingles.

Dane Carbaugh

1. Eric Gordon, Rockets

2. Lou Williams, Rockets

3. Enes Kanter, Thunder

It’s sort of unfair here because the Rockets are going to win this award no matter what after trading for Lou Williams. Gordon is still my guy at this spot because he made the James-Harden-as-point-guard thing work so well as the season started. Gordon used to be in consideration for top contracts, so having him come off the bench, fully healthy and ready to fire from 3-point range is pretty unfair. I’ll take that any day if I’m a Rockets fan. Did I mention Gordon is locked in through 2019-20? We could be witnessing the dawning of a new Manu Ginobili in Texas.

Cavaliers resting LeBron James, maybe Kyrie Irving, in finale

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The Cavaliers rested LeBron James and Kyrie Irving (though not Kevin Love, as initially indicated) yesterday and lost to the Heat. Cleveland now needs a win over the Raptors and a Celtics loss to the Bucks to secure the No. 1 seed. The odds are against that.

So more rest is coming for the Cavs.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

Cavs general manager David Griffin told ESPN that James won’t play in the Cavs’ regular-season finale Wednesday against Toronto because of his calf strain. Irving might play. James hasn’t appeared in a regular-season finale since 2007.

“The most important thing for us is getting those guys some rest,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “They’ve been carrying the load all season. … It’s just the right thing to do. For us going forward, if we’re going to make a long run and deep into these playoffs, those guys being healthy is the most important thing.”

The Raptors are already locked into the No. 3 seed, so they could also rest players. The Bucks are gunning for the No. 5 seed and an easier first-round opponent (Washington, as opposed to Toronto), so they’ll try to beat Boston.

So, don’t completely close the door on the Cavaliers landing the No. 1 seed. But it’s clearly not a priority.

The Palace of Auburn Hills: Where greats earned the crown

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Michael Jordan came through here. LeBron James came through here. The NBA itself came through here.

They were tested.

And they emerged stronger.

Late Pistons owner Bill Davidson built The Palace of Auburn Hills, a sparkling, privately funded arena years ahead of its time that opened in 1988. Lower-level suites and on-grounds parking generated millions. Davidson’s Pistons won three championships while playing at the venue.

But current Pistons owner Tom Gores wants to return the franchise to Downtown Detroit, where the Pistons will join the Red Wings – who leave Joe Louis Arena, which opened in 1979 and was years behind its time – in a new shared arena.

So, the stars of those Pistons title teams – including Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman, Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups – gathered one final time at their old home to celebrate and reminisce.

The Pistons leave The Palace with a whimper, a 105-101 loss to the Wizards on Monday. The Pistons haven’t won a playoff game, here or anywhere, in nine years.

But The Palace will stand as a proving ground for the biggest stars of its generation.

Jordan started 1-6 in playoff games at The Palace, including 0-4 in a seven-game loss in the 1990 Eastern Conference finals. The Pistons double-teamed him, knocked him down, bullied him.

Finally, he and the Bulls turned all their frustration into Bad Boys-level competitiveness, paired it productively with their superior talent and swept the Pistons in the 1991 conference finals. Jordan won his first of six championships that year and became the greatest player of all time.

LeBron James was 1-5 in playoff games at The Palace when he scored the Cavaliers’ final 25 points in a double-overtime win over the Pistons in the 2007 Eastern Conference finals. That 48-point game was the first we saw LeBron truly unleashed, and he finished off the Pistons a couple nights later to reach his first of seven NBA Finals.

The most infamous moment at The Palace, of course, came in 2004: the Malice at the Palace. As then-Ron Artest laid on the scorer’s table during type of player fight the Bad Boys normalized at the arena, a fan pegged him with a cup in the chest. Artest leaped into the stands looking for a fight, and Stephen Jackson followed. Fans and Pacers brawled on and off the court for an extended period.

It was a low point for the NBA, which was still trying to find its way post-Jordan.

But the league too became stronger than ever after facing peril at The Palace. The NBA committed to improving its image, and a deep group of stars have the league more popular than ever.

The post-Malice debates – starting with the dress code – weren’t always clean. There’s a tension in a league where most players are black and most paying customers are white.

That was particularly felt with The Palace – about 30 miles north of downtown, in the wealthier suburbs and literally one of the largest symbols of white flight in area still feeling the effects of the 1967 riots. Truthfully, Detroit was probably better off without a taxpayer funded arena. But the entire region, in and out of the city, has an attachment to the city of Detroit. People, especially an older generation, here like the idea of the Pistons playing downtown. It feels right to them.

The Pistons made Auburn Hills their home for 29 years anyway, and it worked, because, at their best, the Palace-era Pistons embodied the attitude Detroit. The Pistons might provided Jordan with an NBA education, but when the petulant student became the teacher, they darn sure didn’t shake the Bulls’ hands.

Respect wasn’t earned easily here. Jordan didn’t get it until years later – begrudgingly. Grant Hill, the Pistons’ own hotshot who bridged eras, was far too widely unappreciated here. The fans still paying attention are grumbling about Stan Van Gundy’s current group.

Yet, those who prove themselves are welcomed back forever. Rodman, who joined the Bulls after leaving the Pistons and then embarked on years of sideshow antics, drew one of the night’s biggest ovations when he delivered the game ball. Thomas, 23 years after his last game here, still drew the largest media swarm with his infectious smile. And Wallace paraded around as if he owned the place.

“When you’re in The Palace, you always feel like a king,” Wallace said, resting a Larry O’Brien trophy on his shoulder.

The Pistons were never the NBA’s darlings. They just beat the NBA’s darlings.

They outlasted Larry Bird’s Celtics and Magic Johnson’s Lakers and held off Jordan’s Bulls to win championships in their first two years at The Palace. In 2004, the Pistons upset the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant-Karl Malone-Gary Payton Lakers, becoming the only home team in NBA history to sweep the middle three games of a 2-3-2 NBA Finals and win a title on its home floor.

“Even though our team won back-to-back championships, their team was the one that really, I thought, put us in that elite class where we were able to keep the winning tradition,” Thomas said, “in terms of being thought of as a championship place.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo gets Brian Roberts with forceful chase-down block (video)

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This is why Dane picked Giannis Antetokounmpo for an All-Defensive team.